Tag Archives: Big Mouth

Village Voice reviews by Tom Hull

Chris Lightcap’s Bigmouth – Deluxe (CF 174)
I used to be able to ID these cars: cover looks like a mid-1950s Oldsmobile (1956?), the sketch inside more like a 1959 Caddy, the ne plus ultra of tailfins. Lightcap’s a bassist, b. 1971, gets around, third album under his own name after two Fresh Sound New Talents. Runs a big horn line here, with tenor saxophonists Chris Cheek and Tony Malaby on all cuts, and alto saxophonist Andrew D’Angelo joining in on three of eight. Craig Taborn plays Wurlitzer, and Gerald Cleaver is the drums. Sounds like a freewheeling lineup, but they mostly hum along in sync. I used to have a monster Olds: a 1965, with a 425 cu. in. V-8, 4 bbl. carb, put out about 360 hp, ran real smooth keeping all that power bottled up under its big hood, kind of like this record. B+(*)

John Hébert Trio – Spiritual Lover (CF 175)
Bassist, from Louisiana, based in Jersey City, shows up on a lot of good records, now has two under his own name. Trio includes Gerald Cleaver on drums and Benoit Delbecq on piano, clarinet, and synth — mostly piano, but the switches muddy that somewhat. If you care to, you can focus on the bass and be rewarded for your efforts. Otherwise, Delbecq is a fine pianist — I recommend his 2005 album, Phonetics, but you get a taste of that here. B+(**)

Lawnmower – West (CF 178)
The label really seems to like group names, something I try to minimize in my filing: most seem like fronts for some principal, and even when group distribution is genuine so many group names become difficult to follow. I originally tried filing this under drummer Luther Gray: he produced and wrote the (very brief) liner notes. Don’t see any song credits. Of course, the person you hear is alto saxophonist Jim Hobbs, who is always out front. Quartet is filled out with two guitarists, Geoff Farina and Dan Littleton, who don’t make much of a mark. Some bits of Americana worked into the mix, giving it a bit of folk-gospel roots, but recast as free jazz, of course. B+(**)

Keefe Jackson Quartet – Seeing You See (CF 176)
Tenor saxophonist, also plays bass clarinet, from Fayetteville, Arkansas, moved to Chicago in 2001, third album since 2006. Quartet includes ex-Vandermark 5 trombonist Jeb Bishop, who also plays alongside Jackson in Lucky 7s, plus Jason Roebke on bass and Noritaka Tanaka on drums. Snakey free jazz, probably more interesting for Bishop’s runs and smears, although Jackson can pull off some interesting lines. B+(**)

Carlos Bica + Matéria-Prima (CF 180)
Bassist, from Portugal, based in Germany, has a half-dozen or more records since 1996, four with his trio Azul (Frank Möbius on guitar, Jim Black on drums). Not sure if Prima-Matéria is a distinct group — doesn’t show up on Bica’s website project list nor on trumpeter Matthias Schriefl’s MySpace page (Schreefpunk, European TV Brass Trio, Brazilian Motions, deujazz, 2 Generations of Trumpets, United Groove-O-Rama, Schmittmenge Meier, Mutantenstadt). Group also includes Mário Delgado on electric guitar, João Lobo on drums and percussion, and João Paulo on piano, keyboards, and accordion. Assembled from three concerts — the one patch of applause comes at a bit of surprise, even if well earned. Rather patchy, the main shift turning on Paulo’s accordion, which puts the band in a mood for tango or something folkloric; otherwise they have a tendency toward soundtrack, with three placenames in the titles. Still, Schriefl is a smoldering trumpet player, and this never settles into the ordinary. B+(***)

All About Jazz review by Stuart Broomer

Chris Lightcap’s Bigmouth – Deluxe (CF 174)
Bassist Chris Lightcap released a CD called Bigmouth on Fresh Sound-New Talent in 2003, featuring a quartet with drummer Gerald Cleaver and the unusual frontline of two tenor saxophonists, Tony Malaby and Bill McHenry. Seven years later, Lightcap returns to the concept, with “Bigmouth” now the name of the band rather than the CD. In the intervening period, the band and the concept have evolved considerably. Cleaver and Malaby are still present, but the second tenor saxophonist is now Chris Cheek, while Craig Taborn is playing piano, both in its acoustic form and a Wurlitzer electric. Alto saxophonist Andrew D’Angelo appears on three of Lightcap’s eight compositions here.
As might be expected from the frontline, it’s a band of real power, but there are other dimensions as well. Lightcap works from a broad compositional palette, developing strong grooves with Cleaver that emphasize the R&B affinities of the two tenors, as well as a strong Latin feel. The scintillating “Ting” has a Mexican vibe and there are lovely liquid ballads as well. There’s a preference for consonant harmonies here that’s furthered by the majesty of the two tenors, Cheek usually the smoother sound of the two, Malaby using more vocal inflections. Their dovetailing lines, cascading over Lightcap’s bass ostinatos, are the essential component of the developing dialogue of “Clutch” or “Two-Face.”

Taborn’s Wurlitzer piano adds a special ambience, an unexpected period sound that seems to emphasize the Southwest. D’Angelo’s alto is an effective contrast to the weightier tenors, adding a clarion edge to the ballad “Silvertone” and spiraling, celebratory lines to “Ting.” Bigmouth is a special band, demarcating its own territory, filled with surprisingly open spaces.

Point of Departure review by Troy Collins

Chris Lightcap’s Bigmouth – Deluxe (CF174)
Chris Lightcap, one of the more enterprising Downtown bassists to emerge in the past decade, has built an impressive discography as a sideman, accompanying such luminaries as Rob Brown, Joe Morris and Craig Taborn, among many others. Deluxe is the Clean Feed debut of his Bigmouth ensemble, an augmented variation of his quartet, whose previous two albums, Lay-Up and Bigmouth, were both released on the Fresh Sound label.

An instrumentalist with a robust tone and flawless timing, Lightcap’s melodious writing is his true talent, much like fellow bassist/composer Ben Allison, whose work Lightcap’s slightly resembles. Many jazz composers draw from the pop music of their youth for inspiration, but Lightcap integrates rock-oriented tonalities and conventional harmonic progressions into a compositionally advanced jazz context more successfully than most.

Though fairly straightforward, this harmonious and often cathartic approach is met head on by the dual tenor front-line of Chris Cheek and Tony Malaby, whose lush horn voicings soar over the shimmering Wurlitzer chords of Craig Taborn, as Lightcap and drummer Gerald Cleaver drive infectious themes home with élan. Special guest alto saxophonist Andrew D’Angelo makes a strong appearance as well – his biting tone and quicksilver cadences elevating the three cuts on which he plays.

Placing an emphasis on melody first and foremost, the opener, “Platform,” is an exemplary demonstration of the band’s interpretive prowess. Taborn’s probing variations on the tune’s supple theme are embellished by Cheek’s plangent tenor, who passes the baton to Malaby for a rousing finish; if Taborn’s warm Wurlitzer tone is the heart of Bigmouth’s sound, then Cheek and Malaby’s breathy unison tenors are its soul. Selflessly elevating the front-line’s buoyant lyricism, Cleaver’s workman-like downbeats and subtle percussive asides conspire with the leader’s stalwart contributions, providing the quintet with a steadfast rhythmic foundation.

The epic Americana of “Silvertone” and the lilting waltz-time “Ting” feature D’Angelo’s terse alto, which waxes lyrical through the first half of “Silvertone,” then re-appears at the coda, joined by Cheek and Malaby. Building in intensity at the finale, the three saxophonists peal off epic sheets of sound that transcend the tune’s modest beginnings.

The remaining tracks also plumb euphonious melodies, rich harmonies and carefree rhythms, with Lightcap revealing a fondness for subtle Afro-Latin accents and subdivisions of three-quarter time, featuring both on the jubilant “Deluxe Version.” The band’s mellifluous tendencies come to the fore on the wistful ballad “Year of the Rooster,” with “The Clutch” spotlighting dulcet interplay between Cheek and Malaby over a brisk syncopated rhythm. Malaby and Taborn reveal their more extreme inclinations on the pensive “Two-Face,” taking the tune out with a rancorous burnout that raises the bandstand. Only the appropriately titled “Fuzz” acquiesces to conventional rock music clichés, with Lightcap’s distorted bass and Cleaver’s thunderous trap set palpitations invoking populist strains.

A stellar example of accessible, forward-thinking new jazz, Deluxe pulls at the heartstrings and moves the body, without forgetting to exercise the mind.

Music and More review by Tim Niland

Chris Lightcap’s Bigmouth – Deluxe (CF 174)
Bassist Chris Lightcap brings together a heavy hitting modern jazz band called Bigmouth featuring Tony Malaby and Chris Cheek on tenor saxophone, Andrew D’Angelo alto saxophone, Craig Taborn on keyboards and Gerald Cleaver on drums. The band gets a really nice and unique sound with horns harmonizing together on some tracks and playing against each other on others. Taborn uses Fender Rhodes electric piano to excellent effect building different shadings and textures that add atmosphere to the music. “Platform” has a cool electric piano opening with a multi-horn melody. Graceful saxophone builds up to a raw toned tenor solo. “Silvertone” has open bass and drums and horns building a slightly melancholy feel. A saxophone builds to an aching and emotional solo before the rest of the horns join and build to an exciting finish. “Year of the Rooster” slows to a mellow mysterious feel, making the music moody and shimmering like light diffused through early morning mist. Taborn shifts to acoustic piano abetted by thick bass on “The Clutch” laying the groundwork for intricate horn soloing. Medium tempo harmonizing saxophones usher in “Two Face” bobbing and weaving through the music before building to an energetic and freer conclusion. “Deluxe Version” has an intricate improvisation featuring a subtle, shaded electric piano solo. Cool sounding saxophones riff hard and strong creating a propulsive swing feel. “Fuzz” wraps things up in a potent fashion with strong bass and drums, and the saxophones spewing notes in an energetic fashion. This was a very well done disc and is easily recommended, the band makes for a interesting sound world and the compositions and improvisations are consistently compelling.